Conceived Dec 3, 1997
I could not find detailed information on progesterone and pregnancy anywhere on the Internet, but here is what I have pieced together from various sources on the web.
Progesterone and estrogen are the female hormones. In the first half of a woman's menstrual cycle, progesterone is the predominant hormone. It's rise causes ovulation. After ovulation, if conception does not occur, the level of progesterone drops. This drop causes menstruation.
If conception occurs, the progesterone level does not drop, but increases throughout pregnancy. The level needs to be above 10 ng/ML to sustain a pregnancy. An insufficient amount of progesterone could lead to bleeding and possible miscarriage.
Low levels of progesterone can help a doctor know if a pregnancy is abnormal, i.e. ectopic. This may be one reason my doctor decided to do an ultrasound when my level was 11.1, just to make sure that the pregnancy is normal, even though the progesterone level wasn't exceedingly low.
Progesterone is given orally or by injection or by topical cream to women who have had problems conceiving, have severe PMS, are nearing menopause, or are exhibiting (or have history of) symptoms of miscarriage. It's also used with some types of birth control.
Typically, with fertility treatment doctors start women on progesterone about 3 days before ovulation, to help ensure that ovulation takes place, and to increase the level of progesterone should the woman become pregnant. This produces a lower rate of miscarriage. Sometimes doctors will prescribe progesterone after some miscarriage symptoms have shown up, but this usually doesn't do a lot of good. In my case, symptoms of miscarriage were not apparent, though I was approximately 7 weeks along, so supplementing progesterone may help in my pregnancy, and it doesn't seem that it could hurt.
Aside from the various ways of receiving progesterone, there are two types--natural progesterone and synthetic progesterone or progestin. There are supposed to be fewer side effects among women who receive natural progesterone. Also note that oral progesterone may be less effective because the stomach acids may break it down before it is properly absorbed. Creams or injections are likely to work more effectively.
Oral progesterone is not available at most drugstores because of the way it is packaged. The pharmacist actually has to fill the capsules on site, and apparently needs a special license to do so. I was fortunate that a pharmacy 5 minutes from home is able to fill my prescription, though my normal pharmacy (Rite Aid) could not.